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Govt opts for cheap labour?

DPSM Director Ruth Maphorisa
The engagement of part time workers is meant to prevent bloating of the public service wage bill, as well as to reduce overtime expenditure. The Director of Public Service Management (DPSM) Ruth Maphorisa revealed this in her inaugural media address on Tuesday. She said in 2014, the government spent approximately P900 million in overtime payment.

“Engagement of part time employees was triggered by the amount spent in over-time payments.

“Cutting on this expenditure would ensure that the money spent on paying for over-time work could be utilised elsewhere,” Maphorisa said. She also pointed out that the exercise is not government’s strategy to replace permanent employment or an initiative aimed at addressing challenges of unemployment in the country, but rather to meet the existing needs in the public service.   

However, she could not state the budgetary provision for this exercise citing that remuneration would vary considering the hours worked. 

Further, Maphorisa said in some sectors like Agriculture, engagement of these workers would be seasonal, as more would be needed only during peak seasons. 

Hefty expenditure in overtime payment also told a story of stretching the public service workers beyond stipulated hours of work.  “We also want to reduce the hours of work and the workload of the public officers,” she said.

She noted that not all sectors would be without overtime, since the peculiarity of some professions, for instance in the health sector and media, entailed extended hours of work.  Another problem that this recruitment aims to address, according to Maphorisa, is shortage of specialised skills in health. Hence, they will engage specialists who are

already absorbed in the job market to work extra hours. 

“We have realised through our recruitment processes that the country has a shortage in this area.  “Part time recruitment therefore, would enable these specialists to work after hours; and that could address this issue,” she said.

Asked whether a relationship existed between the problem of skills mismatch that the country is experiencing, and the acute shortage of health specialists, Maphorisa could not establish any correlation.  She also said they could have recruited from their graduate database, however, not all positions needed tertiary qualifications.

Early this month, the DPSM placed adverts in the state-owned Daily News, in which scores of government departments were inviting qualified citizens to apply for job placements on a part time basis.  A series of the paper’s editions listed various ministries, among them State President, Education, Minerals, Lands, Infrastructure, Defence, Agriculture, Health and Youth as having vacancies available on part time basis.

However, qualifications and closing dates were omitted from the advertisements.  Meanwhile government is facing a serious challenge of leadership as contract employees on E2 scale and above will reach retirement age en mass in the next five years.  Over 300 of these will have reached retirement age by then, Maphorisa disclosed.





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